As the days tick down to less than a week until Ilkay Gundogan and his teammates take the field in Porto to try and secure the club’s first ever Champions League trophy, the German midfielder has reflected on what was missing from previous squads that ultimately failed in European competition.
Ilkay Gundogan reflected on Manchester City’s demoralising defeat last season at the hands of Lyon in Portugal at the quarter-final stage.
“Me personally, it took a while to get over. It was a big disappointment, we didn't expect to lose that game. We felt good, confident. When you feel like that and lose it you're frustrated, sad, a bit angry."
"You don't have a choice which is good, we had a holiday, trained, then had the next season,” he said in the club’s press conference ahead of the final, as relayed by the Manchester Evening News’ Joe Bray.
“We didn't have a choice but to try again. This year a couple of crucial things changed, I remembered before against Monaco we conceded three goals at home, same against Tottenham and Lyon.”
The midfield man pointed out a key quality that this season’s Manchester City team possess, unlike those of the past.
“This year we are so stable at the back which helped us to win even more. We're strong, stable, this is so important in these crucial moments in the big games. Defend well, not to concede, it's a big advantage."
"Same as well for Chelsea, they seem very stable at the back, conceding few goals, maybe on Saturday it's about who's able to do better with a team that will defend on a high level.”
“I don't know, because we played so many big games but this one stands out,” he said when asked how confident he is personally heading into the Champions League final.
He continued, “It's a difficult question, because everything has worked so well during all the season for us, I feel like we have the right dynamics in the group and everything is quite set. I feel comfortable and we are prepared for it."
"It's about repeating what we already did, reminding ourselves this week, not just Saturday.”
Ilkay Gundogan also looked back on a key event at the beginning of the current campaign that set a good mood within the Manchester City squad.
“I go into the game with the same confidence I went into all the games before. It's about getting used to each other, the individuals, this is what makes a group strong. We voted for five captains at the beginning of the season, these people have more responsibility but it's always bringing the whole group the right direction, if you feel something in the air you don't want to lose someone on the way.”
“It's important, all the players have difficulties throughout the year. Everyone has a little issue, some bigger, some smaller. It's normal, we all struggle. It's about bouncing back, reacting well from struggles. The only people who can really support you are the players.”
You can find more coverage of the press conference on mcfcxtra.com
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